Vietnam Letters - Fictional Writings of a Tunnel Rat

Essay by MitchandoA+, May 2006

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The following are a selection of letters written by Sergeant John (Fingers) Heart to his wife, family and friends. John served in the 1st Infantry in Vietnam and was a part of the special 'Tunnel Rat' squad set up by Captain Herbert Thornton, also of the 1st Infantry. Originally called "Tunnel Runners" by the 25th Infantry Division, and "Ferrets" by the Australian Army, the term "Tunnel Rat" soon became their official accepted name. The tunnel rats were among the bravest in Vietnam, doing a job that not many others could, or would care to do.

2 January 1966

Dear everybody,

Well, once again it's a hot and steamy day in Vietnam. I have heard that in a few days we shall be entering on a search and destroy mission named Operation "Crimp" around the Ho Bo woods, just south of the Iron Triangle. There have been reports of numerous firefights however the enemy always seems to disappear and everyone is intrigued by what's going on down there.

It has been very enjoyable lately and some of the men are getting used to the comfort. Hot food and cold beer is dropped by the helicopters every day! I even got to have a shower and a proper shave today and it feels great.

A group of greenhorns have just joined the unit and are getting their crash course in Vietnam fighting. They are all in awe of Jack (the Ox) Woods, our machine gunner who must be at least 6"8 and as strong as a mallee bull which causes quite a lot of amusement among the old hands including the Ox himself. They still haven't caught on to the card tricks of "Swifty" Johnson, who must have been the most shady character ever back in the old life...